Mapledurham Watermill

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The watermill seen from the lawns of Mapledurham House
The watermill seem from the foot of the village street
The water wheel
The weir that provides the driving force

Mapledurham Watermill is a historic watermill in the civil parish of Mapledurham in the English county of Oxfordshire. The mill is driven by the head of water created by Mapledurham Lock and Weir and is preserved in an operational state.


A mill was already present at Mapledurham at the time of the Domesday Book. The central section of the current mill building dates back to the 15th century. Originally the mill had a single water wheel, on the river side of the building. The mill was increased in size in the 1670s, and a leat was constructed to drive a second water wheel on the village side. It is this second wheel which is still in use today.[1]

In 1690 the mill was leased to James Web for the sum of £60 per year. Around 1700 he expanded the mill again, to allow him to install the equipment to produce the refined flour that was becoming popular. His son Daniel Webb took over from him in 1726 at a rent of £100. In 1747, Thomas Atrum took over the mill at a rent of £150 p.a. in 1747, which was raised to £205 in 1776. In 1777 a barn was added on the mill island, and a wharf built to allow the mill to supply flour to the London market by barge. However by 1784 Thomas Atrum was bankrupt.[1]

The mill continued to flourish, and as late as 1823 plans were drawn up to rebuild the mill in classical style. The advent of cheap imported flour from North America damaged the mill's prosperity, but it remained in use until just after the Second World War. It was restored and brought back into use in 1980.[1]

Admission and access[edit]

The mill is located in the grounds of Mapledurham House, and like the house is open to visitors on weekend and bank holiday afternoons from April to September. The water mill is normally working on opening days, and visitors can visit both main floors of the mill, and see (and feel) its operation.[2]

Admission is charged, and joint tickets are available that allow admission to both house and mill. Access is by car down the narrow and steep lane that is Mapledurham village's only road connection, or by a boat service that runs from Thameside Promenade in Reading on all opening days.[2][3]

Media coverage[edit]

The mill building is best known, and has gained worldwide recognition, for being featured on the cover of the eponymous 1970 debut album of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath.[4]

The watermill is also known for its starring role in the 1976 film of The Eagle Has Landed, where the mill leat is the scene of the dramatic rescue of a local girl by a German paratrooper that results in the unmasking of Steiner and his men.

The mill appears in the introductory credits to the BBC television programme, Richard Hammond's Blast Lab, as the supposed hidden location of the underground lab.

A body is discovered at the mill in Midsomer Murders, Season 7, episode 3 (The Fisher King).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "The Old Watermill". Mapledurham Estate. Retrieved April 29, 2007. 
  2. ^ a b "Opening times, directions and prices". Mapledurham Estate. Retrieved April 29, 2007. 
  3. ^ "Boat service from Reading to Mapledurham". Thames River Cruises. Retrieved April 29, 2007. 
  4. ^ Cope, Andrew L. (2010). Black Sabbath and the rise of heavy metal music. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-7546-6881-7. Retrieved 26 October 2010. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°29′8.52″N 1°2′14.82″W / 51.4857000°N 1.0374500°W / 51.4857000; -1.0374500